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Utah Hike of the Week: Red Reef Trail — Red Cliffs Recreation Area

First Published      Last Updated Jun 14 2017 11:12 am

The Red Reef Trail is a glorious (and popular) canyon hike in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area north of Harrisburg, which is part of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. There was no parking available at the Red Cliffs Campground and trailhead when I visited on a Sunday earlier this month, but the crowds had cleared by Monday. The trail meanders below redrock cliffs to an alcove and then a narrow slickrock canyon with a short waterfall and swimming hole.

Directions • From Interstate 15, take the exit to Leeds and turn southwest onto the town's Main Street/Old U.S. Highway 91. Continue 3.5 miles on this road alongside I-15 to Harrisburg, where you will take a signed underpass that runs northwest below I-15 to a T-junction. Turn southwest and continue a quarter-mile around the bend in the road to the ranger booth. Continue one mile north to the campground and pay the $5 fee at the kiosk. The trailhead is on the northwest corner of the campground. Day-use parking is marked.

Hike • The trail heads northwest through a broad canyon with abundant trees and shrubs. A large alcove is visible in a canyon wall to the north about a half-mile from the trailhead. The final 10th of a mile enters a swirling slickrock canyon, and the trail hops back and forth across the creek, over stepping stones. Where the waterfall pours into a pool, you will see footholds carved into the rock up the north side of the pool. A rope also has been installed to help climbers reach the top of the waterfall.

This hike is best in the spring, when water is abundant in the canyon; rangers say the waterfall runs dry by early summer.

Digital map available at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1UrBsr_AekLWEYWEXTTwrHOPP88g&usp=sharing.

— Erin Alberty

Destination: Waterfall

Hiking time • 1 hours

Round-trip miles • 1.2 miles

Elevation gain • 200 feet

Difficulty • Easy

Trailhead restrooms • Yes

Dogs allowed • Yes, leashed

Bikes allowed • n/a

Fees • $5




 

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